Sometimes it is easy to tell if your cat is hungry. Other times it is a toss-up. You think Fluffy is hungry, so you put some food in front of them, and they take a quick sniff and turn and walk away.

  • Your cat was not hungry.
  • Your cat did not like what you gave it to eat.

How to Tell if a Cat is Hungry?

All I can say is no one had better put a plate of peas or liver in front of me and expect me to eat them, ugh! I would get up and leave. Cats are the same way.

  • Some cats love chicken and hate fish.
  • Other cats like fish and will not eat chicken.
  • Other cats love turkey and may hate fish and chicken.
  • Other cats only eat dry and not moist.
  • Some cats eat wet food and not dry food.
  • Some cats eat both dry and wet food.

Cat parents seem to agree that their cat needs a change in cat food brands on occasion because they get tired of the same food every day. We buy grain-free foods primarily while a couple of our cats are stuck on Fancy Feast Medleys or Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers. The bad thing about foods with gravy is that while two of our cats love this brand, they lick all the gray and leave the morsels. I have tried buying cat gravy packs, but neither like this and will not eat them.

Knowing when your cat is hungry and what they eat can be like playing Russian Roulette with cat food dishes. Learn your cat’s preferences for cat flavors. Do not reprimand your cat when they refuse to eat. Chances are they are not hungry, or they do not like the food.

Every pet owner manages the food and food brands for their cats differently. The way we handle our cats’ food is,

  • A couple of dry cat food dishes with a bowl of fresh water in a couple of places in the house. We also use a pet water fountain with filtered water.
  • We feed our cats moist food on demand. As with humans, not everyone wants or needs to eat simultaneously. Everyone has different needs, and cats are the same way.

Some pet owners feed all their pets simultaneously, and if they do not eat, they do not get any more. I don’t think this seems the right thing to do and perhaps a bit cruel. How would that pet owner feel if someone did this to them?

We have experienced cat parenthood for over 30 years and have had plenty of experience telling if any of our cats are hungry. While we have had more cats than we have today, our six at present are no different from the cats we loved and enjoyed over 30 years ago.

  • Your cat may be hungry if you are in the kitchen preparing dinner and your cat starts climbing up your pant leg.
  • Your cat may be hungry if you suddenly notice your cat sitting on a chair or table staring at your every move while fixing dinner.
  • Your cat may be hungry if it is circling your legs trying to get your attention.
  • Perhaps your cat comes to you and starts to paw your arm gently? Our cats do this when they are hungry.
  • Does your cat start to cry, whine, or meow constantly until you bring out their meal? Never worry about your cat starving to death. However, they are undoubtedly hungry.

If you feed your cat at the same time every day, your cat becomes acclimated to a set eating pattern, which is OK. However, we found that cats sometimes are not hungry when the clock strikes 5 pm. For this reason, we put two to three fresh bowels of dry cat food out every morning, and in the evening, we top off the dishes if they are low. As for moist food, the cats eat on demand. There was always someone home to feed the kitties on demand when we were working.

When my husband and I go to the store, we always stop and get a supply of cat food. By the time we get the groceries in the kitchen, our six cats have formed a circle around the groceries, with several little noses smelling the grocery bags. We wonder if they are curious or hungry, maybe both.

Our cats get fed on demand because not all of them like eating simultaneously. As I mentioned prior, they do not eat only when we give our cats food they do not like. None of our cats are obese and remain within a normal body weight range.

We even have one cat, Isabella, who sits behind, waiting for the others to finish their meal. All cats leave at least a teaspoon of food uneaten. As soon as they move away, Isabella moves in for the buffet of a lifetime. She goes from bowl to bowl and is our clean-up kitty. When she is done eating what was left, she wants her own bowl of food.

Cheaper Cat Food versus Grain-Free, Natural, Holistic Cat Food

While cheaper cat foods will not immediately kill your cat. More inexpensive foods may eventually harm their health due to all the,

  • Excessive grain content
  • Meat-by product
  • Additives, preservatives, and dyes
  • Cheap cat foods lack an adequate supply of essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Cheap cat food passes FDA standards on a thin gray line.

Consider investing in a grain-free higher grade of cat food. Your cat will remain healthier, may have fewer health problems, be happier, and live longer.

How Often Do Cats Get Hungry?

No cat has the same makeup or desire to eat at the same time. According to the National Research Council, the Nutrient Requirements of domestic, stray, and feral cats is found that they eat at least eight to twelve times in 24 hours. Cats only eat two to three teaspoons of food per serving. However, they eat more frequently. Outside cats, feral cats in a cat commune, and stray cats spend much of their time hunting.

Several vets tell us that cats need dry food but not entirely. Giving your cat wet food helps avoid hairballs, constipation, and dehydration. Giving your cat moist cat food helps provide more water and liquid in their diet. If your cat does not like wet food, it is OK. Try to add a bit of water, cat gravy, or no-sodium chicken broth to their dry food for the added liquid.

How Do I Know if My Cat is Getting Enough Food?

We rarely worried if any of our cats were getting enough to eat except when a cat was ill and did not want to eat. Nutrient requirements change from a kitten to a senior cat at different cat life levels. The amount your cat eats can also change. This is also true of humans. As cats and humans age, their metabolism decreases, and calories are not burned as quickly. Activity levels decline as the cat ages.

The easiest way to tell if your cat is getting enough food is by monitoring its weight and researching the typical bodyweight of your cat’s breed at any age level. Access cat growth charts to get a ballpark figure. If you can feel your kitty’s bones along the spine or at its sides and you see its ribs, they are too thin.

If your cat is overweight and obese, it can also suffer from malnutrition. Being obese does not mean that your cat is getting the proper nutrients or enough essential nutrients. If your cat is obese, it may or may not be starving.

Annual wellness exams are important because they allow you and your vet to compare weights and blood work. The cat’s lab values tell you and your vet if your cat is getting adequate nutrients. If you are worried about your cat getting enough nutrients, speak to your vet about a good cat multivitamin.

How Long Can Cats Go Without Food?

Cats can go longer without food than they can without water. I have always believed it is better to have your cat above its ideal body weight than right on the mark or slightly below. Because, if your cat falls ill and loses weight, it is not as bad if it is a bit overweight.

Our cats go through a period where they will sniff the food and then walk away, no matter what we feed them. We even give them their very favorites, and the same thing happens. They seem uninterested in eating anything. I do think that the weather has a lot to do with this. We notice that our cats lose interest in eating if it is blistering cold outside or we have extreme heat. I monitor them, and I don’t worry too much as long as they drink sufficient water. However, if it is going on day three of not eating, I get them to the vets.

Our cats seem to tire of eating the same thing every day. They loved Fancy Feast until they no longer wanted to eat it. Cats get uninterested in their food if they eat the same thing every day. This is when we change brands. Just because they refuse to eat for a few days does not mean they are ill. If a cat has refused to eat, monitor other things such as,

  • Is your cat peeing and pooping OK, or has this changed?
  • Is your cat active, or is it lethargic and uninterested in playing?
  • Look at their eyes and the color of their nose and mucus membranes. Are the eyes shiny and bright? Mucous membranes need to be moist and pink.
  • Is  your cat drinking enough water?

Some cat professionals say that cats can survive up to two weeks without eating as long as they drink plenty of water. This is less than an ideal situation. Without sufficient water, your cat probably will not survive after three days. Going this long without food will cause malnutrition and health problems.

The bottom line is if your cat eats like a horse and all of a sudden your cat sniffs the food bowl and walks away, you need to start ruling out why your cat is doing this, such as,

  • Is your cat tired of the brand of food you give them?
  • Perhaps your kitty has dental issues and is in pain.
  • Did your cat receive recent vaccinations?
  • Are there changes in your home causing your cat some stress?
  • Does your cat have diarrhea and vomiting?
  • Does your kitty have kidney problems?
  • Is your cat constipated or has a bladder infection?
  • Does your cat have symptoms of a cold or allergy issues?

Compare your kitty to you. If you are not feeling well, you likely do not care about eating. Cats can also be very picky about their food. When our cats refuse to eat, we find the reason is they want something different or they are not hungry. Try changing brands or textures.

The rule of thumb is that it is better to be safe and take your furry friend for a checkup versus waiting and allowing a health issue to worsen.

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.